WASHINGTON Aug 26 A U.S. appeals court on
Tuesday revived a lawsuit against Philip Morris USA Inc that
claims the tobacco company defrauded the federal government by
failing to sell cigarettes to military vendors at the lowest
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
Circuit said that a lower court judge should not have dismissed
the lawsuit by Anthony Oliver, the president and CEO of
Medallion Brands International Co, another cigarette company.
The 2008 lawsuit against Philip Morris, an Altria Group Inc
company, concerns cigarette sales to the Navy Exchange
Service Command and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service,
both of which operate facilities that sell products to military
personnel and their families.
Oliver said Philip Morris sold cigarettes to its affiliates
at lower rates than those the government paid. The lawsuit
claimed Philip Morris charged millions of dollars more each year
than it should have.
Philip Morris said in court papers that Oliver is simply a
competitor who also sells cigarettes to the military and has "no
inside information" about the claims.
In Tuesday's ruling, the appeals court said the lawsuit
could proceed because the information on which it was based was
not, as the lower court found, already publicly disclosed.
The False Claims Act allows citizens, as well as the
government, to bring claims. If they win, they receive a
percentage of the damages. Lawsuits cannot be based on
information that is already public.
The case is United States of America v. Philip Morris, U.S.
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, No.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Ros Krasny and Grant